Editor’s Choice July/August 2022Submitted by editor on 21 June 2022.
The editor’s choice is the article by Corlatti et al. Past, present and future of chamois science.
Early generations of wildlife ecologists often focused their careers on specific taxonomic groups. They usually started working on a particular species as graduate students, trying to understand a particular aspect of its ecology, which was then both broadened and deepened during the PhD. This led to further questions, which led to studies in other environments and on related species, and eventually to big books with a fascinating wealth of insights. That changed sometime around the 1980s. When I started my PhD (in 1987), I had to phrase my topic around theory (as funding mechanisms dictated), but my “heroes” from whom I learned the most where those true experts who had studied every possible aspect of my study species’ existence in various parts of its range.
That our approach to (wildlife) science has become more theory-driven is not necessarily bad. One downside, however, is that a holistic understanding of individual species group is no longer the natural endpoint of a wildlifer’s career. This is why I found the paper by Corlatti et al. so inspiring. It resulted from a conference, is co-authored by a large number of chamois researchers from across Europe, and presents a summary of the state of “chamois science”, a concept that may appear almost provocatively narrow. However, the management and particularly the conservation of individual species depends on solid, in-depth understanding of this very species. Early research on chamois had been motivated by its role as a game species, where sustainable harvests were prevented by stochastic nature of its Alpine habitats. Today, climate change, which is most pronounced in the mountains, is affecting chamois and may impact its future. The overview to our understanding of chamois provided by Corlatti et al., but also their pinpointing to knowledge gaps, is a valuable basis for conservationists and future researchers alike. Similar accounts on the state of research on other species are most welcome.